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How to restore the sidebar in iTunes 11

Freaked out by iTunes' new interface? Here's how to bring back that old familiar sidebar.

Are you an iTunes user? If so, by now you may be looking at iTunes 11, which Apple started rolling out yesterday. (Still running iTunes 10? You can get the update by clicking Help, Check for Updates.)

One thing you'll notice right away is the totally overhauled interface, which, just like with Windows 8, can take some getting used to.

Indeed, the big change is the disappearance of the sidebar, which is how most people navigated their libraries and playlists, the iTunes Store, and so on. Needless to say, iTunes 11 can seem disorienting without it.

Fortunately, there's an easy way to bring it back: just press Ctrl-S. That's actually a toggle, so you can press it again to hide the sidebar if you wish.

At the same time, you may want to restore iTunes' pull-down menus, which you can do by clicking the tiny arrow in the top-left corner of the window, then choosing Show Menu Bar. (Keyboard shortcut: Ctrl-B.)

I find it interesting that software developers continually "improve" their products by hiding or removing features that users know and rely on (cough, Start Button, cough). Ostensibly this is to streamline the interface, but let's get real: it just causes confusion.

What I really wanted Apple to do was improve its search results for things like apps and songs, allowing me to filter them by, say, rating or release date. Instead we got side-scrolling search-result lists that, while similar to what you see on your iPhone or iPad, don't really help you find what you're looking for. Quite the opposite, in my humble opinion.

I'm sure some fanboys will take me to task for criticizing iTunes, saying I'm cranky about change. Maybe so, but I don't like being forced to learn a new interface when the old one was just fine, thank you. At least here you can restore it without having to install third-party software (cough, Windows 8, cough).

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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